Gourmet hotel breaks, Penang
Hungry for a gourmet break? From fine-dining country-house hotels and restaurants with rooms to Michelin-star-spangled kitchens at the culinary cutting edge, we've truffle-hunted hotels and foraged the world to cherry-pick those Smith stays that go above and beyond when it comes to cuisine. Whether you want a gastronomic experience par excellence or delectable farm-to-table fare, our gourmet breaks collection has a hotel to suit your foodie taste. Bon appetit!
Start in spick-and-span Singapore, a city known as much for its designer shops and scintillating street food as its superlative airport (yes, Changi really does have a rooftop pool, giant slide and butterfly garden). Hop across the Straits to Malacca, a little gem of shaded alleys, Portuguese ruins and inspired Nonya cuisine. The Petronas Towers dominate Kuala Lumpur (or KL as it’s affectionately known), a pulsing but laid-back metropolis with a pleasing café culture and serious shopping habit. Stock up on tea stops and cool air in the undulating Cameron Highlands, lose yourself in foodie-heaven Penang or relax in sultry Sabah, where you can climb majestic mountains, dive Sipadan’s turtle-rich waters or play with orang-utans.
Shopping is Singapore’s national pastime; savvy visitors avoid the glitz and glamour of Orchard Road in favour of its quirkier designer boutiques. Tucked in a Chinatown nook, World Savage stocks repurposed vintage togs and hand-made jewellery; Haji Lane is home to a string of fashion-forward boutiques and scandi-furniture store cum bespoke cocktail den Bar Stories. When you’ve had your fill of plastic-flashing, turn to the spiritual at intriguing Tamil festivals; in KL’s Batu Caves, Thaipusam is a colourful display of faith, endurance and penance. Singapore’s verdant new ‘supertrees’ dominate the skyline at Gardens by the Bay, but for the real thing head to Sepilok’s pocket of rainforest, home to an orang-utan sanctuary and rehabilitation centre.
Pure pleasure, tingling tastebuds, sheer happiness – if you’re after one word to describe the state of bliss following a good meal, just say shiok. Locals can spend hours arguing over the best chicken rice or nasi lemak; from curry-laced Ramly burgers to the crispiest of wafer-thin dosas at Sri Vijaya (+65 6336 1748), the heart of gastronomy is in food centres and hawker stalls. That’s not to say fine dining is off the menu: Joël Robuchon, Mario Batali and Daniel Boulud all have Singapore outlets. Ladies who lunch flock to the Regent’s groaning high-tea buffet, in-the-know expats bunk off early for Morton’s free happy-hour steak sandwiches, but for the real taste of Malaysia, pull up a plastic chair at a roadside stall and tuck into smelly, buttery, custardy durian.